Friday, March 29, 2019

Aaron Moore Kendall & his War of 1812 pension

Lucas County pioneer Aaron Moore Kendall, at the time a young man of 28, was minding his own business on a farm in Adams County, Ohio (along the Ohio River southeast of Cincinnati), during the summer of 1813. Then alarms that had sounded in that state's far northwest corner finally reached  militia commanders in the south.

The British and their allies, the Tecumseh confederacy, had launched a second siege of Fort Meigs --- up north near the Michigan line. The first siege, on May 1-9, had been unsuccessful and the allied forces had retreated. Now, they were giving it a second shot.

Accordingly, Aaron found himself on July 29. 1813, drafted into a year's service as a private in Capt. Joseph Kretser's Company of Ohio Militia, and not long thereafter, marching north.


Aaron, born during 1785 in Pennsylvania, had moved west with his parents, James and Ruhanna Moore Kendall, to Adams County as a boy and had married there on Oct. 28, 1804, Peggy Larrick, then settled down to farm.

Many years later, during 1855, Aaron and Peggy, as family elders, would join their son, Abbot G. Kendall, and his family in Washington Township, Lucas County. They are the patriarch and matriarch of all Lucas County Kendalls and among the permanent residents of Greenville Pioneer Cemetery, southeast of Russell.

Aaron also is one of a dozen or so War of 1812 veterans who lived out their years and died in Lucas County.


News didn't travel especially fast in those days, so Aaron and his fellow citizen soldiers had no idea when they started north that long-ago summer that the Fort Meigs scare had ended before their unit formed. Once again, the British and their allies had withdrawn and faded away.

Aaron described his experience like this in an application for a War of 1812 pension dated June 7, 1872: "We went to relieve Fort Meigs, the same being surrounded by Indians and British, and the Indians and British left before we got there and we went into camp at Upper Sandusky."

Once in camp at Upper Sandusky, no discernible purpose for the company could be found and the troops were honorably discharged, Aaron on Sept. 8, 1813, after 42 days of service.


At some point between 1830 and 1840, Aaron and Peggy moved their family from Ohio west into Indiana, settling in Bartholomew County, southeast of Indianapolis. By 1850, they had moved a short distance farther west, to Shelby County.

Then during 1851, son Abbot Kendall and his family family made a major move to the far west ---  Washington Township in Lucas County, Iowa, opened for settlement just five years earlier, where land was cheap and the prospects were good. It looks like Aaron went along. Then about 66, he purchased a total of 200 acres of government land in the immediate neighborhood of Greenville that year, then apparently returned to Ohio.

The 1856 Iowa census of Washington Township suggests that Aaron and Peggy did not settle permanently in Iowa until 1855.

Sadly, Peggy died just three years later, on the 20th of November 1858 at the age of 75 years, 3 months and 11 days. Her grandson, Jerome Kendall, son of Abbot and Sarah, had died the day before, age 20, and so the two were buried together and share a Greenville Cemetery tombstone.


After a decent interval had passed, Aaron moved back for a time to Indiana where on the 11th of February, 1860, he married Elizabeth (Taylor) Lucas, widow of Joshua B. Lucas, who had died  in Shelby County during 1850. They had been neighbors before the Kendalls moved to Iowa. In addition, Elizabeth's niece, Sarah (Lucas) Kendall, was married to Abbot, and therefore was Aaron's daughter-in-law. Aaron was about 75 at the time; Elizabeth, some 15 years younger.

Aaron and Elizabeth returned to Greenville not long after their marriage and lived there together until June 14, 1874, when she died at the age of 73. She, too, was buried in the Greenville Cemetery.


Congress passed an act during 1871 that provided pensions to honorably discharged veterans of the War of 1812 based on service alone rather than service-related disability. Aaron, now 86, applied, but had not read the fine print carefully enough. As it turned out, he was not eligible because he had served only 42 days. The minimum required under the act was 60 days.

The pension act was amended during 1878, reducing the minimum time served for eligibility to 14 days. By this time, Aaron's health was failing; his son, Abbot, who had been his mainstay for many years, had died on the 26th of March, 1877, age 68; and he was badly in need of the modest stipend --- $8 a month. This time, his application was successful.

Unfortunately, Aaron suffered a stroke during June of 1878 that left him, now advancing into his 90s, coherent but virtually helpless. His grandson, Nathan W. Kendall, and Nathan's family, became his principal caregiver.

Aaron still was a determined gentleman, however, and upon learning that special arrangements had been made to provide more income for some very old veterans, convinced his grandson to plead his case directly to President Rutherford B. Hayes in a letter dated April 25, 1879. Nathan sat down and wrote the letter. While it seems not to have produced results, it did end up in Aaron's pension file.

In that letter, Nathan reported to the president that his grandfather, "keeps to his bed all the time, (but) he has a good appetite to eat and does not realise but very little pain."

Aaron became critically ill during December of 1879 and died at his grandson's home at the age of 93 on Dec. 28. He was buried with Peggy and Elizabeth, Abbot, grandson Jerome and other family members at Greenville.

Because Aaron had no resources remaining and all of his children were dead, Nathan submitted a claim for reimbursement that apparently was allowed: $18 for personal care during his grandfather's last illness and $25 for a coffin.

Some years later, the government made available tombstones specifically designed for War of 1812 veterans --- and Nathan saw to it that the old gentleman had one.

At least three War of 1812 veterans are buried at Greenville; Aaron is the only one of them whose service record is clearly spelled out in marble.

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